LSU gaining on USC in Top 25

NEW YORK -- LSU is closing in on Southern California in the AP Top 25, and Appalachian State is getting some recognition -- but not a ranking.

After a surprisingly easy and thoroughly impressive victory over Virginia Tech, No. 2 LSU took 19 first-place votes from No. 1 USC in the poll released Sunday.

The Trojans were idle Saturday while the Tigers routed the Hokies 48-7 in Death Valley. USC received 40 first-place votes from the media panel, down from 59 last week, and 1,619 points.

LSU received 25 first-place votes and 1,582 points.

Appalachian State, a week after pulling off a stunning upset at Michigan, received 19 points, not nearly enough to be ranked but it got a spot between Auburn (23 points) and Cincinnati (12 points) in the list of others receiving votes.

• COLLEGE ATHLETICS -- Pittsburgh athletic director Jeff Long's visit to Fayetteville last week was his second meeting with University of Arkansas leaders who are interviewing him for the Arkansas athletic director post, officials said.

Long met with UA Chancellor John White, System President Alan Sugg and Stanley Reed, chairman of the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees, about a week ago, Reed said. He wouldn't say where the meeting took place.

"No contract's been signed," Reed said. "We've talked with (Long) and we certainly have an interest in him, and I think he's got an interest in us. We haven't finalized any arrangement. ... We want to get to the point where whoever we offer is going to accept, and we're not necessarily to that point yet.

"We're close, but we've still got some things to work out. It's a process that we're still involved in. No decision has been made."

• BASKETBALL -- Vassilis Spanoulis hit a 3-pointer in the final second to give Greece a victory over Croatia and move it closer to a quarterfinal berth in the European Basketball Championship.

Jose Calderon scored 17 points to lift Spain past Russia 81-69 and into the quarterfinals with the 14-time champion, and Joao Gomes had 23 points and 11 rebounds to help Portugal beat Israel 94-85.

• AUTO RACING -- Dario Franchitti squeezed out half a lap more than Scott Dixon on their final fuel load and that's all it took for the Scot to win his first IndyCar Series title in what might be his farewell to open-wheel racing.

The two leaders, who came into the season-finale at Chicagoland Speedway with Franchitti leading the standings by just three points, both stopped to top off their 22-gallon fuel tanks during a caution 54 laps from the end on the 1 1/2-mile oval.

It looked as if Dixon, the 2003 series champion, was going to pull it off, taking the lead when Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Dan Wheldon ran out of fuel on lap 194 of the 200-lap event.

• PRO BASEBALL -- Baltimore Orioles outfielder Jay Gibbons received performance-enhancing steroids and human growth hormone after both substances were banned by baseball, reported Sunday.

Gibbons is the latest athlete to be linked to the Florida pharmacy under investigation for illegally distributing prescription medications.

Major League Baseball asked Friday to meet with St. Louis' Rick Ankiel and Toronto's Troy Glaus after two reports said they received performance-enhancing drugs from Signature Pharmacy several years ago.

Between October 2003 and July 2005, Gibbons got six shipments of Genotropin (a brand name for synthetic human growth hormone), two shipments of testosterone and two shipments of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), said.